Smart City Seattle and Geographies of Exclusion
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In this chapter, I explore Seattle’s claim to be a smart city and its use of digital technological programs and initiatives to work toward economic, environmental, and social sustainability. Seattle claims to be addressing racial and class disparities through programs that are geared toward digital inclusion and bridging the digital divide. But as I argue, within the narrative of the “smart city” and the city’s discourse of digital sustainability, many of the city’s larger neoliberal agendas and practices are concealed. The city’s use of crime mapping, for instance, not only helps to further construct class divides, but at times also reinforces structural and institutional racism. Seattle rhetorically leans on its history of social progressiveness to market its digital technological programs and gain support of its public; however, the anti-neoliberal atmosphere of the World Trade Organization (WTO) protest era, I contend, persists as sort of myth. As I discuss, many of Seattle’s “smart city” programs actually reinforce hegemonic geographies of economic and social exclusion, neighborhood profiling, and the use of surveillance. And Seattle’s role in the smart city economy, as it works toward data collection, aggregation, and urban revitalization, paradoxically intensifies corporate power, privatization, and the use of residents as free user–producer laborers.